White House Contest Winnners: Level III
Check out the winning entries and honorable mentions in the 4-6 grade level.
Kaitlyn Albertoli, San Clemente, CA
February 12, 1837
Dear President-elect Van Buren,
I would first like to congratulate you on your election as the eighth President of the United States of America. The purpose of my letter is to request a very important personal favor of you. During your term as President, would you be so kind as to look after my Southern magnolia tree planted near the White House portico? Planting this tree as a remembrance of my beloved wife Rachel, I wish for it to stand for many centuries to come.
This tree began as a cutting which I took from the large magnolia tree at my home, the Hermitage, in Nashville. An avid gardener, my wife created a lovely garden with hundreds of flowers amid her much-loved magnolia trees. As you may recall, my dear Rachel passed away just before I made the long journey to Washington to serve as President. I longed to be with her, so I planted a cutting from her beautiful tree at the White House where she could always be with me in spirit. Although I still miss her so, the magnolia brings back cheerful memories which I shall never forget. Now that I will be returning to the Hermitage, I will see the original magnolia that stands next to the gazebo by her grave.
As you see, this tree means the world to me. Your attention to maintaining its beauty is much appreciated. My predecessor, John Quincy Adams, created the breath-taking landscape surrounding the White House. Although we have been great rivals, Adams and I agree on one issue - we both appreciate the beauty of the gardens and grounds throughout this grand property. During my terms, I endeavored to carry on the garden's exquisiteness. If you will, may you strive to keep the legacy alive, and perhaps plant your own tree, or add a fountain, or something to make the gardens a remarkable place for everyone to enjoy for years to come.
President Andrew Jackson
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20500
I have traveled around Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, passed through the deserts of New Mexico, viewed the majestic Grand Canyon in Arizona, and I am now journeying through the southern tip of California. Grand geysers and hot springs are scattered about Yellowstone Park. To my amazement, wild creatures appeared so tame there. Deer paraded right by me to get hay, unaffected by my presents. As I passed through New Mexico, I saw signs of ancient desert civilizations. Ruins and artifacts of people long ago gave me some knowledge of the natives that once roamed this land. The Grand Canyon was a magnificent sight, with trees trimming the brim, and the walls of the canyon decorated with a blending of the colors red, yellow, gray, and green. The canyon appeared to be about a mile deep and several miles wide, a spectacular view. My journey at times has been hars, with sand flying in my face, and prickly plants pocking me, like porcupine needles. However, Algonquin has been faithful to endure the long trip and difficult environment.
I am bringing you many special treasures that I have found along my journey. One special item is a horned frog named Bill the Lizard. I am keeping him in a small box inside my saddlebag and cannot wait for you to see him. Another such addition is Josh, my little badger. He feasts on milk and potatoes, and is quite friendly unless he is hungry and then he lets out a squeal.
As I traveled across the Sierras into California, the surroundings changed from sandy to semi-tropical lands. I was able to take shelter from time to time from the oiling sun under a cluster of palm trees. Josh is delighted to frolic on the grassy hills. Orange and olive groves, as well as many vibrant colored flowers, adorn the area.
I miss you and think of you often. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Your father Ted
Gabrielle D'Annunzio, Largo, FL
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500
June 6th, 1864
This letter probably should not be sent, yet it must be. I have heard an interesting new development from one of Master Lincoln's friends. He came for dinner last night, and I was serving food and casually eavesdropping on their conversation. No one noticed me, and Master Lincoln's friend was talking about this war.
Master Lincoln's friend, whose name remains unknown, told Master Lincoln some ghastly news. He said that not terribly far away, in Virginia, a Mr. Grant had made a mistake. This mistake appears to have resulted in the deaths of 7,000 noble Union soldiers. This is terrible. I am fearful that the dreaded Confederates may gain the upper hand. At least we have a kind abolitionist as our president. I know Master Lincoln will straighten this mess out.
In response to the question you asked in your last letter, no, I am not permitted to speak to the Lincoln boys. However, since I more or less live with them, of course I do know some things. The oldest is Robert Lincoln, who is away right now. He is studying at Harvard to become a lawyer, like his father was. The family is very surprised he hasn't failed out yet; apparently, he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. The family calls him Bob. There was another son after Bob, Eddie Lincoln. But he contracted a severe form of diphtheria, and died when he was just a very young child. Another tragedy befell them more recently. Willie Lincoln, born in 1850, died just three years ago, when the Lincolns were living in the White House. How sad was Master Lincoln!
But no one can stay sad for very long with Master Tad Lincoln around, the fourth and youngest son of Master Lincoln. He is indeed a prankster. He seems to enjoy making our work as difficult as possible, with endless games of "war" and countless broken vases. We clean up after him reluctantly, but we all like him. He is a fun little boy. There is but one thing about him that annoys me. He has a tutor, of course, being the esteemed son of Master Lincoln, but never studies. He can barely read and write. Were I to have his chance to learn, I would be overjoyed. But he shows blatant disregard for books of any sort.
Well, at least I can read and write. Perhaps I write too much, for I do find myself running out of paper. I will write again soon, Rafi.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500
September 2nd, 1864
Goodness, it seems a lifetime ago that I sent you my last letter. That was a letter of fear, sent by someone who was afraid for her country and the plight of her people. This is a letter sent by one who is rejoicing! I presume you know of Atlanta, the capitol city of Georgia? Our old plantation, when you and I were together, was just outside Atlanta, with dreadful Master Todd. It has fallen to the Union soldiers! Master Lincoln is having a celebratory supper as we speak.
Since I wrote my last letter, much has happened. A chain of events was started that led to Atlanta's surrender. General Sherman left Chattanooga, then started for Atlanta. There he was met by a superior general, Mr. Joseph Johnston. General Johnston, despite being at the disadvantage due to the size of his army, managed to hold off our Union general. But then they replaced him with John Bell Hood. I don't know why; perhaps they preferred General Hood. Well, in any event, General Sherman made short work of General Hood. General Hood surrendered just yesterday. Master Lincoln has invited a few of his closest friends for dinner tonight, and they are discussing some tactics.
The presidential race is getting less exciting, but more reassuring. I doubt Mr. George McClellan will win now. Here is something you might be interested to know: Mr. McClellan used to be Commander McClellan of the Union Army, but was discharged by Lincoln. Mr. McClellan still thinks he would do a better job running the Union Army, I've heard. He thinks that, at best, he'd do better than Mr. Lincoln, who is doing a despicable job in his mind. Apparently no one has told him the Union troops are winning!
I do wonder about this war. It doesn't seem to be on even ground. For, all the Africans in the North are fighting for the Union, while the Confederates are an all-white army. So the Union soldiers really have almost twice the people of the Confederates. Yet, somehow, it seems that there is a great deal of back-and-forth. One day the Union soldiers have the upper hand; the next day, the Confederates do. I am happy, then sad. I do have to hope that the Unions will win the war; all the same, if they were dealt a terrible blow, I shudder to predict the outcome.
One sheet of paper is truly not enough. I must borrow more next time. Farewell my friend, I hope to see you again soon.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500
February 1st, 1865
Yet another letter that simply must be sent. Abraham Lincoln has been reelected into office! We slaves have a hope of being freed once more. I confess I was very nervous during the race. Mr. George McClellan, although I'm sure he's a fine gentleman, scared me a little. He did not seen like he would make many movements to free the likes of you and me. And he seemed to be winning in the beginning. Oh, I was shivering! But dear Master Lincoln pulled ahead to become our new president.
So everything is much the same as usual here. Everyone whispers that the war will soon be won and we freed, but I don't listen much to these whispers. I do love living here. It is so pretty. Sometimes, when I've finished my duty for the day, I am permitted to traipse around the Executive Mansion lawns. They are perfectly trimmed, and so expansive. I could wander for hours without crossing the same patch twice! There are many pine trees, and they are so lovely in the snow. Their needles stay green, for they are a very strange kind of tree, and against the backdrop of the snow well, it's magnificent. It is so different then our native Africa.
Inside, it's very busy. It seems the president is always entertaining a guest. Large dinners every night in the East Room, with talk I'm not allowed to listen to. I only serve the food. Sometimes the guests spend the night, and then all the Lincoln children have to share one bedroom. It is getting very crowded in this house. Servants' quarters are always crowded, of course, but now the guests are as crowded as us! Can you imagine it, Rafi? The esteemed guests of the Executive Mansion as crowded as slaves!
But I am so happy here now that Master Lincoln is our president again. Soon we may be freed! We could live just like we did in Africa. Wouldn't it be exciting, to live exactly like our masters? We could go to school and learn to write better. We'd be allowed to write letters to each other, instead of having to hide late at night and scribble with a borrowed pen. It would be so grand.
I must say farewell now, for I have only one sheet of paper and am fast running out. I hope to see you again soon, dear friend.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC 20500
April 15th, 1865
Oh, dearest Rafi,
What can I say?
I am certain you know of the tragedy that befell beloved Master Lincoln. While watching the play Our American Cousin, Master Lincoln was shot in the head. He died this morning. We all the servants are crying for him.
His hateful killer, John Wilkes Booth, escaped the police and is still somewhere out there. It frightens me, knowing that this crazy man is alive. It is unkind to say so, but thousands will agree with me when I say our world will be better when this madman draws his last breath. He has taken away all our hopes. All my dreams are shattered. Perhaps I will never see you again, Rafiki, but I can't bear that thought. I must keep alive a little flicker of hope that someday I will see all my friends again.
At least the late Master Lincoln (the late Master Lincoln! Oh, I shall never get used to writing that) got to see his war won. Mostly won. The Confederates are surrendering everywhere, right, left, and center. I am so confused. Are we free, or not? Master Lincoln, the greatest abolitionist I know, has been killed. I doubt we are freed. There will probably be a new president, I know not who. Perhaps he will be an advocate for the Confederate soldiers. Whatever freedom Master Lincoln had won us, it can be taken away in an instant.
Yet this brings to my mind a new thought. Master Lincoln had worked so hard. He worked to bring freedom to our race, to get each and every person to agree that all people are equal, whether our skin is white, black, or anything in between. And we, the black people of America, will not let that freedom go. It has been given to us, and we will keep it. We will not let go of our freedom. Not now, not even in the aftermath of Master Lincoln's death. Not ever. Our people are a strong people, and we have withstood more than this. We will not conceded to go back to what we once were.
So, in conclusion, dear friend, I do truly believe we can overcome this hurdle. We will keep our freedom, which was rightfully given to us, and we will do wonders with it. There will be black scientists, black writers, black inventors. I would not be surprised if my grandchildren saw a black president. Master Lincoln will be sorely missed. His death has left a gaping hole, but it will heal, and we will be stronger for it.
I will see you again soon, Rafi. This I know now for certain.
All my love,
Tony Donaldson, Washington, DC
June 7, 1933
Today has been going terrible. My national advisors advised me to hold a pressconference, but I have nothing to say to the press. Those people are just trying to get me to slipup and say the wrong thing. There are over 13,000,000 people unemployed, and almost everybank is closed.
I fear that this Great Depression will become worse. I need to think and think fastabout how to get over 13,000,000 unemployed back to work. I feel as though today's economyis at its worst.
Almost every bank is closed. This is now becoming a problem because I may not get reelected.I have been a Governor, a Senator, and a vice Presidential nominee, but I have an ideathat will get us out of the "ditch" we are in now, it is to come up with a bail out plan. I planto have a meeting with my national economic advisor and try to convince Congress to pass myeconomic plan.
For example, I plan to develop a program called social security. This will helpthis nation's elderly once they can no longer work. They will receive small monthly paymentseach month. When I send this program to Congress, I will say, " This seeking for a greatermeasure of welfare and happiness does not indicate a change in values. It is rather a return tovalues lost in the course of our economic development and expansion. I plan to sign this actinto law in the coming years.
am just trying to follow in the "foot steps" of my fifth cousin, President TheodoreRoosevelt. My plan is not going too well. In one of my fireside-chats, I plan to address thecitizens about a new bailout plan that will remedy the economy.
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
Sidney Brooke Foster, Satellite Beach, FL
Hello, Sweetheart! I miss you very much, As you know, I'm back in Georgetown. The doctors think it would be better if I stay here during my pregnancy. I'd much rather be campaigning with you across the country. It does give me more time with Caroline, though. Caroline is getting so big. She is learning lots of words. She loves her puppy. She misses you and her bedtime stories you read her. She can't wait for the new baby. I was thinking if it was a boy, we could name it John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr.
I have been answering all the campaign mail every day. From the amount of mail I receive, I think we will win! You may have seen some TV commercials. They have taped me in interviews. It went well, but I was a little nervous. I've also been writing a column for the newspaper called, "Campaign Wife," which I am very proud of.
Jack and I have visited the White House twice; once with my mother, and once with Mrs. Eisenhower. It is not what I expected. I believe that the White House should be furnished with antiques of the past presidents. We should make the White House more like a museum of the history of the United States. I will research objects and furniture that were special and owned by past presidents and their families and restore the White House.
I want each room to contain things that will inspire children and adults to learn about history when they come to the White House! I have learned that these things have been kept in storage buildings. I am going to put together a Fine Arts Committee [with people] who are experts in historic preservation. Then I will get donors to buy them and donate them to the White House and each donor will be noted in a special book of record.
We don't even have to use the money of the people for this work. I'm going to make a guide book and sell it for money so that we can change the White House. I'll get help by putting together the White House Historical Association, so everyone who visits the White House will have a guide book that tells the history of the United States, room by room, and all the objects we place in these rooms will tell the story of the people who lived there.
My dear Jack, I can't wait til you come home. I know that you will be the next president of the United States and I will be the First Lady, and together we will change things to make everything better.
Love your adoring wife,